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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old May 7 2010, 01:05 AM   #31
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

Ah, so she's a command officer, a navigator, a generic role-unspecified away team member, a singer, a nude dancer...

...but not a linguist and/or translator?

Revisionist thinking or not, I say TOS Uhura's job (and education) are the same as what STXI, loads of Star Trek novels and Nichelle Nichols herself says.
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Old May 7 2010, 01:30 AM   #32
Jonas Grumby
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

KingDaniel wrote: View Post
Ah, so she's a command officer...
Depends on how you define "command officer." As T'Girl pointed out, there is ample onscreen evidence that she is a bridge officer.

...a navigator...
We saw her man the navigator's station.

...a generic role-unspecified away team member...
*shrug* Landing parties (not "away teams," BTW) are comprised at the Captain's discretion. Kirk tends to prefer his most trusted officers (which includes Uhura) for the most part. Doesn't seem odd to me.

...a singer...
We saw her sing.

...a nude dancer...
We saw that onscreen, too. In one of the movies. You know, the movies...where she was also a hopeless klutz at Klingonese?

...but not a linguist and/or translator?
No onscreen evidence whatsoever of that.

Don't get me wrong. You're free to build your own personal backstory for any character you want any way you want to. But novels, actor's inflated opinions of their own characters, or your own personal wishes aside, you can't prove any of it by what's onscreen.
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Old May 7 2010, 01:50 AM   #33
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

We've also seen her effecting technical repairs to the communication console, as in, crawling up underneath it with space-pliers.

I think her job is a technical/sciences one. Not so simple as 'run the radio', to be sure, but there's absolutely zilch about being a linguist, despite what Nichols says. Must I bring up the MLK story that always grew bigger in the retelling?

I imagine Uhura knew a lot about subspace, information theory, encryption, etc.
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Old May 7 2010, 02:52 AM   #34
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

greenguy wrote: View Post
There is a huge difference between being a linguist and being a translator.
Linguist is military jargon for a member who is paid to maintain proficiency in and, occasionally, use a foreign language. It's not the same thing as an academic linguist. Both were probably present on the Enterprise. Uhura could have been either one, or neither.
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Old May 7 2010, 03:49 AM   #35
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

Lots of negativity about TOS Uhura being "just" a radio operator. I would think the perception of what she actually did would have changed since the boom in the communications field. I think of her now as more of the communication systems manager. If the internet is tough to manage now, can you imagine what it could be like a few centuries from now?

Having worked in the computer field, the systems manager and/or internet manager is not a cakey job. It does require lots of knowledge, intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness. If TOS Uhura wasn't a "linguist" it doesn't mean her job was less important than the NuUhura IMO. Should have gone this route in NuTrek. Uhura should have been more the computer communications expert whereas Spock would have been the number cruncher and hardware computer expert.
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Old May 7 2010, 04:04 AM   #36
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

maryh wrote: View Post
Lots of negativity about TOS Uhura being "just" a radio operator. I would think the perception of what she actually did would have changed since the boom in the communications field. I think of her now as more of the communication systems manager. If the internet is tough to manage now, can you imagine what it could be like a few centuries from now?

Having worked in the computer field, the systems manager and/or internet manager is not a cakey job. It does require lots of knowledge, intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness. If TOS Uhura wasn't a "linguist" it doesn't mean her job was less important than the NuUhura IMO. Should have gone this route in NuTrek. Uhura should have been more the computer communications expert whereas Spock would have been the number cruncher and hardware computer expert.
ST09, in all its ridiculousness, had Chekov as the guy who gets on the comm system and announces stuff, taking away TOS Uhura's only actual role :-/
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Old May 7 2010, 07:53 AM   #37
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

T'Girl wrote: View Post
I believe in addition to being a communications systems expert, she was also a mid rank general bridge officer. She was on the landing party during “Mirror Mirror.”
But that was because she looked so unbelievably friggin' hot in that skimpy midriff-baring uniform!
Jonas Grumby wrote: View Post
Landing parties (not “away teams,” BTW) are comprised at the Captain's discretion. Kirk tends to prefer his most trusted officers (which includes Uhura) for the most part.
Yes, I have a bit of a bug up my ass about TOS landing parties being referred to as “away teams,” a phrase first used in TNG. “Landing party” is a nice, traditional naval term. “Away team” sounds like high school football.
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Old May 7 2010, 08:14 AM   #38
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

DevilEyes wrote: View Post
greenguy wrote: View Post
There is a huge difference between being a linguist and being a translator. Linguists formally study various elements of language, not necessarily foreign languages and translation. Like many linguists, I am a linguist but not a translator. Most linguists do not even venture into foreign languages unless they are doing comparative/historical linguistics or finding a unifying theme among syntax and phonology.
Or not such a huge difference. I studied English Language and Literature (which is a foreign language to me) which included studying general linguistics as well as phonetics, morphology, syntax and history of the English language, as well as translation, and a bunch of other things (including comparative analysis). I would say that I am a linguist since I studied a language at the University, and I am or have been a translator since I've worked as a translator. I fail to see how being a translator precludes one from being a linguist, or vice versa.
I never said that being one precludes being another. Obviously many linguists can perform translation and have proficiency in other languages, and many translators have a basic grasp of IPA and sentence structure and morphology. My main point is to attention to the fact that the terms are often merged and misused: people hear "linguist" and they assume that that person speak four languages, when that is not the reality of the situation or the field. I have seen little evidence that Star Trek has any sort of formal linguistic depth or merit beyond dropping the term "syntax subroutine;" Uhura does not qualify as a linguist to me. My upper-level phonology, language model, and psycholinguistics professors each are brilliant and Ivy-trained and do not speak more than a few words of any other foreign languages.

You are a translator with basic linguistic training; I am a formal linguist with little to no translation training although I do speak two other languages. I wouldn't call myself a translator because I did not study literature and do any immersion beyond a few months in France. Conversely, I am sorry if you take offense, but I would not call you a professional or even trained linguist, per se, even if you have taken basic linguistics classes, because translation and literature don't have anything to do with formal linguistics or topics and models of language like generative grammar, Optimality Theory, connectionism vs. externalism, or government/binding theory, which are pretty much all you do past the intro classes.
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Old May 7 2010, 01:15 PM   #39
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

greenguy wrote: View Post
DevilEyes wrote: View Post
greenguy wrote: View Post
There is a huge difference between being a linguist and being a translator. Linguists formally study various elements of language, not necessarily foreign languages and translation. Like many linguists, I am a linguist but not a translator. Most linguists do not even venture into foreign languages unless they are doing comparative/historical linguistics or finding a unifying theme among syntax and phonology.
Or not such a huge difference. I studied English Language and Literature (which is a foreign language to me) which included studying general linguistics as well as phonetics, morphology, syntax and history of the English language, as well as translation, and a bunch of other things (including comparative analysis). I would say that I am a linguist since I studied a language at the University, and I am or have been a translator since I've worked as a translator. I fail to see how being a translator precludes one from being a linguist, or vice versa.
I never said that being one precludes being another. Obviously many linguists can perform translation and have proficiency in other languages, and many translators have a basic grasp of IPA and sentence structure and morphology. My main point is to attention to the fact that the terms are often merged and misused: people hear "linguist" and they assume that that person speak four languages, when that is not the reality of the situation or the field. I have seen little evidence that Star Trek has any sort of formal linguistic depth or merit beyond dropping the term "syntax subroutine;" Uhura does not qualify as a linguist to me. My upper-level phonology, language model, and psycholinguistics professors each are brilliant and Ivy-trained and do not speak more than a few words of any other foreign languages.

You are a translator with basic linguistic training; I am a formal linguist with little to no translation training although I do speak two other languages. I wouldn't call myself a translator because I did not study literature and do any immersion beyond a few months in France. Conversely, I am sorry if you take offense, but I would not call you a professional or even trained linguist, per se, even if you have taken basic linguistics classes, because translation and literature don't have anything to do with formal linguistics or topics and models of language like generative grammar, Optimality Theory, connectionism vs. externalism, or government/binding theory, which are pretty much all you do past the intro classes.
How does any of this apply to Uhura being or not being a "linguist"? We don't know what the term means in the 23rd century, or exactly what kind of education and training it involves. It seems like you are insisting on one particular 20th/21st century idea of education as primarily providing specialization for everyone in just one narrow vocation. I'm not even sure that this is always really reflective of the present day realities of job market, and I really don't see why it would still be dominant in the Star Trek 23rd century, where people supposedly have a lot more time on their hands, no pressure of finding a paying job, and presumably a lot more opportunities to educate themselves. I don't see why it would be such an incredible idea that someone working in communications might speak the few major languages of the quadrant (such as Klingon) at least to the level that would enable them to communicate should the need arise (universal translators not working, for instance), while also being familiar with linguistic theories that might help while analyzing patterns of completely unfamiliar languages.

I mean, they have a position called "science officer", for crying out loud! That's quite a broadly defined field of expertise!!
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Old May 8 2010, 12:26 AM   #40
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

Anticitizen wrote: View Post
maryh wrote: View Post
Lots of negativity about TOS Uhura being "just" a radio operator. I would think the perception of what she actually did would have changed since the boom in the communications field. I think of her now as more of the communication systems manager. If the internet is tough to manage now, can you imagine what it could be like a few centuries from now?

Having worked in the computer field, the systems manager and/or internet manager is not a cakey job. It does require lots of knowledge, intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness. If TOS Uhura wasn't a "linguist" it doesn't mean her job was less important than the NuUhura IMO. Should have gone this route in NuTrek. Uhura should have been more the computer communications expert whereas Spock would have been the number cruncher and hardware computer expert.
ST09, in all its ridiculousness, had Chekov as the guy who gets on the comm system and announces stuff, taking away TOS Uhura's only actual role :-/
Did she ever do this in TOS? I dont recall. Seems mostly she flipped the switch that allowed Kirk to make announcements. My recollection is that she operated and repaired the comm systems for the ship. Which is why she wears red and is probably a qualified and highly skilled communications engineer or technician.
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Old May 8 2010, 12:34 AM   #41
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Did she ever do this in TOS? I dont recall. Seems mostly she flipped the switch that allowed Kirk to make announcements. My recollection is that she operated and repaired the comm systems for the ship. Which is why she wears red and is probably a qualified and highly skilled communications engineer or technician.
She wore the gold uniform in "Corbomite Maneuver" and "Mudd's Women".

http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/File:Nyota_Uhura,_2266.jpg
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Old May 8 2010, 12:38 AM   #42
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

DevilEyes wrote: View Post
Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Did she ever do this in TOS? I dont recall. Seems mostly she flipped the switch that allowed Kirk to make announcements. My recollection is that she operated and repaired the comm systems for the ship. Which is why she wears red and is probably a qualified and highly skilled communications engineer or technician.
She wore the gold uniform in "Corbomite Maneuver" and "Mudd's Women".

http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/File:Nyota_Uhura,_2266.jpg
Yep, but thats one of those oddities you over look to make sense of the show.

Did any woman look good in Command Gold?
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Old May 8 2010, 04:23 AM   #43
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

I don't think there was any mention of her being a linguist in TOS, TAS, or in the original movies. They did Hoshi-ify Uhura in the new film. I actually didn't mind that. It gave Uhura more depth, more to do as a character.
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Old May 14 2010, 04:21 AM   #44
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

DevilEyes wrote: View Post
How does any of this apply to Uhura being or not being a "linguist"?
Oh, please. Don't come after me and my credentials and then play the off-topic card. If you read my post, the entire point was how translation is not linguistics and linguistics is not translation, no matter how hard you or Star Trek tries to imply this or make this the case. There is absolutely no evidence given that what Uhura does is actual linguistics, hence my assumption that she isn't a linguist. All the evidence, terminology, and information is lacking in this assertion.

We don't know what the term means in the 23rd century, or exactly what kind of education and training it involves. It seems like you are insisting on one particular 20th/21st century idea of education as primarily providing specialization for everyone in just one narrow vocation. I'm not even sure that this is always really reflective of the present day realities of job market, and I really don't see why it would still be dominant in the Star Trek 23rd century, where people supposedly have a lot more time on their hands, no pressure of finding a paying job, and presumably a lot more opportunities to educate themselves.
So my argument is invalid because we might be using the wrong word? I am not insisting on anything specialized; I am talking about linguistics. You are misusing some blanket term. I am sorry if it's so damning for my post that I am assuming what the field might actually entail, given that I hold a degree in the topic.

I don't see why it would be such an incredible idea that someone working in communications might speak the few major languages of the quadrant (such as Klingon) at least to the level that would enable them to communicate should the need arise (universal translators not working, for instance), while also being familiar with linguistic theories that might help while analyzing patterns of completely unfamiliar languages.
Because this is all 100% speculative and extrapolative and still has nothing to do with linguistics. You are still operating under the assumption that proficiency in another language somehow necessitates or infers knowledge of actual linguistics, which is not the case whatsoever and has been the entire point of my participation in this thread.

You are right in that it's not outrageous to think that a comm officer would be able to speak languages, but this isn't real linguistics, and real linguistics has never been mentioned in TOS or the movies before. You are extrapolating that just because someone speaks languages, there is some greater linguistic understanding or framework happening. Please cite the "linguistic theory" mentioned in any context where Uhura was working on communications. I want quotes and evidence. Until then, my point stands that Uhura is not a linguist and we have received no evidence that she knows anything about models of language, acquisition, theories of grammar, phonology, syntax, semantics, or any other legitimate field of linguistics.

I mean, they have a position called "science officer", for crying out loud! That's quite a broadly defined field of expertise!!
Yes, and I would hope the science officer at least studied something legitimately scientific, just like how I would hope that someone who calls themselves a linguist would actually study real linguistics. This consists of many classes, none of which have anything to do with foreign languages, but rather, the formal study of language and its origins, production, and formations.
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Old May 14 2010, 07:45 AM   #45
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Re: Was Uhura a linguist?

maryh wrote: View Post
If TOS Uhura wasn't a "linguist" it doesn't mean her job was less important than the NuUhura IMO.
If anything TOS's Uhura was the more competent officer of the two characters. And they are two separate characters, despite the similarity of the names. ST Eleven's Uhura was a linguist, there is evidence that's all she was, she wasn't actual a communications officer.
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